This book fell into my lap just when I needed it most. I was bored and having trouble concentrating and needed a book that was “different”. Addie LaRue met that challenge. Here is my book review The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.
We have all read or at least heard of stories where the protagonist sells their soul to the devil. We have also had a variety of books available over the decades about time travel. In addition there are so many books floating around out there about magic and curses, witches and spells. But here in V.E. Schwab’s remarkably unique novel we find a beautiful, touching, sad but heartfelt story that covers all of these topics.
Spanning more than three hundred years, the exceptional and creative story development of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, keeps the reader tied to the story through the decades as historical events come and go but Addie LaRue remains.
Young Addie LaRue makes a deal with a spirit ( a sorcerer? the devil?) in the year 1714 in France so she can avoid marriage and live a free life forever. But foreveris a very long, long time, and thus begins The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, where everyone she meets forgets her within seconds.
Until nearly 300 years later, Addie meets a young thoughtful and somewhat sad man who doesn’t forget her. The first person in 300 years who remembers her and who can say her name.
I loved this book, which beneath the exquisite writing and plot development is just a beautiful little love story. And in my opinion, an Oscar winning movie waiting to jump off the pages and onto the big screen. I hope you enjoyed my book review The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.
*****Five stars for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.
Enjoy this blog from 2020 again or for the very first time.
We are all a bit anxious these days about our health and well-being. Remembering the important recommendations for social distancing, mask wearing and washing your hands A LOT remains super important. But what we choose to eat in our social distanced lives is another important factor in staying healthy. Immunity boosting foods for healthy life is something we should learn to do all the time, not just when the world is fighting a pandemic.
Choosing to add immunity boosting foods to your diet is really easy, without giving up the tasty comfort foods we all are enjoying during these anxious days. Over the past few years I have been working on a diet that is rich in both immunity boosting foods, anti-inflamatory foods and foods that are good for gut health.
I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, just a lay person who has experimented and found some things that work for me. And maybe they will work for you too!
Last summer we purchased a sauerkraut maker, manufactured by a company called Cultures for Health. Now we eat a few tablespoons of homemade sauerkraut every day. Homemade sauerkraut is full of good bacteria for your gut. Unrefrigerated store-bought sauerkraut has been pasteurized. Pasteurization kills all those good bacteria and so you lose the healthy benefits. You can use this sauerkraut maker for other fermented foods too like pickles, beans, radishes. Eating fermented foods adds good bacteria and enzymes to your gut! And they taste good too.
Here is our fun video on how to make your own!
Now I know you’re gonna want your own fermenter. Here is the one we recommend.
Our daily breakfast nearly every day of the week includes a lot of immunity boosting foods for healthy life. Each morning we eat a bowl full of blueberries (antioxidants, phytoflavinoids & Vitamin C), spinach (fights cardiovascular and chronic disease), almonds or walnuts (packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals) and other fruits like apples, bananas, mango. We mix this with homemade yogurt.
The probiotics in yogurt (live cultures) are really good for your health. Yogurt is a great source of low calorie protein, as long as you aren’t eating the sweet and fruity kind. We make our own yogurt very simply in a yogurt maker we bought from a manufacturer called Euro Cuisine, through Cultures for Health. It’s really easy. All you need is a live-culture yogurt starter and milk. We make it once a week at night, and when we wake up in the morning it’s ready to eat.
Eat the Rainbow
The rest of our daily diet includes a variety of immunity boosting foods for healthy life like ginger (free radicals build a defense system), garlic (anti-inflamatory), dark greens and broccoli ( full of good vitamins and anti-oxidant goodness) peppers and citrus (nothing like the Vitamin C in these foods to strengthen your immunity) and apple cider vinegar (used in small quantities is a great anti-oxidant boost).
We eat meat including beef and pork, although most of our meat consumption is chicken and fish. We consume so much fish, mostly cold water fish. We try to have salmon, canned sardines and responsibly fished canned tuna regularly, all foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Although I am a coffee lover, I often take a cup of herbal tea before bed. I love a ginger tea which helps me sleep as does chamomile, and I’m also fond of peppermint tea as a pick me up in the afternoon. I don’t drink green tea very often, but like the teas I mentioned above, these all are high in immunity boosting anti-oxidants. The world of tea is actually very fascinating…there are entire books written about it and tea is definitely a immunity boosting food for healthy life. For me, just an herbal cup each evening is both delicious, healthy and relaxing.
Staying healthy isn’t just about food of course. Finding ways to stay active, get lots of rest, drink lots of water and engage in activities we love during these stressful times are all part of keeping your immunity system thriving despite the stress. It’s okay to have that brownie, or burger too. It’s not about depriving yourself. It’s about making good choices as often as possible, adding immunity boosting foods for healthy life to your diet, the things science knows help our bodies fight back anything from the common cold to an uncontrolled virus. Doing this on a regular basis will make you look and feel better.
Take care of yourself my friends. Choose healthy options and be well.
Don’t be misled by the title of this book. It is not a sappy love story. Far, far from it. Here is my book review Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore.
My friend Lisa sent me a note and told me she thought this was the kind of book I would like. She gets me. A nitty-gritty story of small town life in Texas in the 1970’s and the racist, good ole boy justice that permeates every aspect of the town of Odessa.
Parts of this book were painful to read. The book begins with a violent rape and continues in this vein as the victim, 14- year old Gloria Sanchez of Mexican descent, is vilified in the small town long before the case goes to trial. The rapist, a white young man and the son of a preacher is presumed innocent…or said to have been seduced by the victim.
This story delves deep into the back story of the women of Odessa, a town on the verge of an oil boom in 1976. The women see what the town has become, is becoming, as they try to protect their image, their reputation, their children. It’s all a ruse.
Does anyone ever really know how a person is really struggling deep down? Behind closed doors, phony smiles, and everyday facade? The women of Odessa know.
The brutal attack of Gloria will resonate throughout this community, and be told in this novel through the alternating voices of some remarkably developed and indelible characters. Characters you will not soon forget. Women of strength and perseverance in a time and place still so backwards in the late 1970’s that today we might think it’s all made up.
Book Review Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore – A brilliantly written first novel for Wetmore, who was raised in West Texas. I couldn’t put it down.
*****Five stars for Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore.
Enjoy this post, Skin Care at Sixty, from 2020 again or for the very first time.
Being in lockdown, and returning so abruptly from our world travels back to the USA, put me in a position with free time to step back and take a look at myself. Everything that had fully occupied my time over the last four years had come to a complete and unexpected stop.
But this provided an unexpected blessing – an opportunity for me to focus on self care. Something I have been wholly unable to do most of my life; to no one’s fault but my own.
When we arrived in the USA I found I had a lot of free time on my hands. I began to realize I could use this stay-at-home time to accomplish some self-care things I had so often put on the back burner before. I immediately started a running training program, joined NOOM weight loss (to date have dropped 20 pounds and will be blogging on this later) and set out to focus on revitalizing my aging and neglected skin and focusing on skin care at sixty.
I’ve never been someone to spend a lot of money on beauty. I get my hair and nails done, but shop for myself infrequently and never too extravagantly. Most of my skincare products and makeup generally come from Target. When we travel I go months without wearing makeup and most days only use cleanser and moisturizer with SPF 15.
But here I am with all this free time…free time to get healthy both inside and out. Free time to finally focus on skin care at sixty. Better late than never? Well, you be the judge.
On arriving back home I contacted my friend Susi who is a Mary Kay consultant, because I had heard some good reviews about the MK line called TimeWise Repair. This line of skincare products is specifically designed for women like me, who are looking to repair damage from sun and sea, age and neglect.
I began using these products in early May. I did a video on YouTube at that time, to share the start of my journey. You can see that first video below. In the video I share all the products I began using; 1) TimeWise Repair Foaming Cleanser 2) Indulge Soothing Eye Gel 3) Eye Renewal Cream 4) Vitamin C 5) Lifting Serum 6) TimeWise Repair Retinol Night Cream and TimeWise Repair SPF 30 Day Cream 7) Deep Wrinkle Filler
Here is the first video…and by the way you will notice the 20 pounds heavier in this first video as compared to today…that alone makes my face look healthier.
I spent the next three weeks religiously following the night and day program for Mary Kay’s TimeWise Repair products and I immediately began to feel my skin was moister and generally all-around healthier. Once a week I used two more products in the evening; 8) TimeWise Repair Facial Peel and 9) TimeWise Repair Moisture Renewing Gel Mask.
Here is the second video I did at week three. I REALLY notice in this video the bags under my eyes. At the time of this video I had not yet been diagnosed with a sinus infection…but clearly it was raging and causing me trouble. I kept hoping the Mary Kay eye cream would take care of the bags, not realizing it was something more. Here is the second video.
So today at week six I am pretty happy about how my skin FEELS as much as how it looks. I also feel like by focusing on this for six weeks I have developed good skin care habits for both morning and night, something I never had before. I would say that the products I feel have been the best for me would be the TimeWise Repair Foaming Cleanser, the Indulge Soothing Eye Gel, the Day Cream, the Night Cream, the Facial Peel and the Gel Mask.
My consultant Susi feels strongly that the serum is one of the best things I can do for my skin. And I feel like the night cream with retinal has contributed greatly to the diminished wrinkles. It’s been nice having Susi at my fingertips for questions…something I can’t get from sales people at Target or the mall. Worth it for me in my busy life.
It’s not pretty, but I’m sharing with you my before shot that was done on the Mary Kay Skin Analyzer App the first week of May, and my After Shot taken this week. Note I’m purposefully not smiling…to really be able to see my problem areas. The skin analyzer is the tool we used to both determine the products that would be best for my skin issues, and to see the results. Here it is. Oi. Embarrassing.
However, I see much improvement in the wrinkles, and am hopeful with continued use it will get better still. Although some of my most prominent wrinkles, like the “11” between my brows haven’t really improved at all, I’m happy to accept those as part of my sixty year journey. I think those are just here to stay.
My final video, posted yesterday, shares a fun time lapse look at my routine to finish off the experiment. Here it is.
So, again realizing I have dropped 20 lbs in six weeks, and started running every day combined with this skin care routine I feel really healthy overall. I see a difference in my skin, especially how it feels and even how my makeup feels on my skin. Here is another before and after shot with my make up on.
AND since I am making all this effort, I bought a new hat with a wider brim to protect my skin more than any hat I’ve owned before. Sassy. I am feeling so much healthier over all, I hope all these new habits will stick, and I can continue to improve my skin, weight and activity level in the months and years ahead. Because, you know, I’m fabulous!
I would love to hear about your self care journey. Comment below or message me anytime.
This book. Wow. A Pulitzer Prize winning narrative with an incredible leading character who will break your heart. Here is my book review Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout.
Stout brilliantly writes a collection of short stories, each with an overriding character named Olive Kitteridge. Those 13 stories become this Pulitzer Prize winning book. Stout’s ability to pull the reader into each separate story reveals her creative aptitude. Although often sad and depressing I couldn’t put it down.
This book. These characters. What you find here is the truth in living. How everyone has some hidden sadness we may never really know. How first impressions are often wrong. How the process of just living changes each person over time. In the small Maine town, these are the people Stout writes about, each dealing with something; lost love, addiction, suicide contemplation, lack of self-confidence, infidelity, loneliness, death.
Throughout these stories there is Olive Kitteridge; wife, mother, retired school teacher. Sometimes tyrannical, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes kind, sometimes irritable. And often quietly insightful. Olive Kitteridge is a mirror of each of us, as we endure life’s trials and tragedies, joys and jubilation. A life too short and usually over before we really know how precious it was.
We love Paris like everyone else. But really that’s the problem. EVERYONE loves Paris (and London and Rome) and so you find lots of crowds and high cost. In our travels around the world we have really tried to find new places that few tourists go. Often these destinations end up being our most favorite. And the more we travel the more we want to encourage everyone to consider stepping out of their travel comfort zone, and exploring the unknown – the favorite destinations no one goes. Finding your way to the lesser traveled destinations creates less impact on the planet while bringing greater cultural awareness to the traveler. We ask you to consider these options:
Instead of Croatia consider visiting Bulgaria, one of our favorite countries we have ever been to. Bulgaria has so much to offer, and yet we did not meet a single American during the entire month we were there. We did meet lots of Russians, Germans and some Brits. Bulgaria has a remarkable coastline along the gorgeous Black Sea as well as great mountains for hiking. The food is amazing, the wine is cheap and the 5000 year history is astounding. And the people are so amazing, welcoming and proud. They have endured a great deal in their history, and they have a “come what may” attitude that is infectious. Go visit Bulgaria.
Instead of Italy go to fascinating Slovenia. From Trieste, Italy it’s just a hop across the border to Slovenia, the tiny country once part of Yugoslavia. We have been to Slovenia twice and I suspect we will be there again. Slovenia has a tiny coastline on the Adriatic, and our favorite town of Piran is a perfect place to visit and get some local flavor. But don’t stop there, Slovenia has some of the most beautiful mountain towns and lakes. Much of Slovenia is still agrarian and the people are welcoming and patriotic and friendly. Oh and the seafood. So darn delicious. Go visit Slovenia.
Instead of Mexico go to El Salvador. We just spent two weeks on the Pacific Coast of tiny El Salvador and we absolutely loved it. There are some Americans coming here, but mostly 20-year-old surfers. The media has made us believe El Salvador is a dangerous place, and yet it is no more dangerous than Mexico and Americans flock to Mexico. Come to El Salvador where the water is warm, the people are welcoming, the food is delicious and the history though brutal and bloody – is fascinating. El Salvador will soon come out the shadow of its violent past, so visit before the secret gets out. Go visit El Salvador.
Instead of Germany go to Poland. Poland is just beginning to step out of the shadow and become a tourist destination. And it should. We fell hard for Poland spending three weeks there last fall. Poland has some of the most astonishing history anywhere in Europe. The food is fantastic. The people are warm and happy to meet you. The historic villages are well-preserved and beautiful. And it is cheap and easy to get to. We loved Krakow as well as all the other places we visited and using the train in Poland was a great way to travel. You really should visit Poland now.
Instead of India go to Bangladesh. I loved our time in India too, but if you want to push yourself and visit somewhere no tourists go, visit the remarkable, tiny country of Bangladesh. Our short visit to Bangladesh provided us some of the most rewarding moments we have ever had in our travels. It’s difficult to visit Bangladesh without a guide, and we were lucky to find Deshguri, one of the few tour operators in the country. Through Deshguri we able to meet so many Bangladeshi people, who greeted us with more kindness than anywhere we have ever been in the world. We certainly stood out in both crowded Dakar as well as the beautiful villages and countryside, since almost no Western tourists come here. We learned so much during our time in Bangladesh, and left our heart with its beautiful people. A remarkable experience that everyone should have. Visit Bangladesh soon.
Instead of Thailand go to Sri Lanka. Thailand is overrun with tourists anymore. So if you are looking for beautiful beaches, mountains and more, visit Sri Lanka instead. The young backpacking set has found Sri Lanka, but few American visitors of the Fab Fifties era are traveling here. Why not? It is amazing. We spent three of our most favorite weeks in Sri Lanka, one of the friendliest countries we have ever visited. The Civil War is over and Sri Lanka is safe and inexpensive. The food is the da bomb. Hiking and history is around every corner and the beaches are incredible. We saw elephants and leopards, monkeys and snakes. Oh my. It’s Sri Lanka for me.
Instead of South Africa go to Namibia. Our ten-day tour in Namibia with Wild Wind Safaris will go down in our travels as one of the most remarkable places. This country that nobody has heard of is one of the most beautiful in the world. We had an amazing private guide during our time there, but you can also see the country easily with your own 4×4 vehicle (careful though, there is a high traffic fatality rate in Namibia). Namibia has a gorgeous Atlantic coastline, dry mountainous region that is like a moonscape, and multiple fascinating cultures such as the Himba, Damara and Herero people. And to top it off Etosha National Park – single-handedly the best wildlife viewing we have ever encountered. I absolutely fell in love with Namibia. If you have ever considered a safari in Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa take a moment and research Namibia. You will be so glad you did. Go see Namibia now.
Instead of the Maldives go to the Seychelles. First a word about the Maldives. We loved our time there, and luckily we found a very inexpensive place to stay. But in general the Maldives are expensive and there is no alcohol! So consider the Seychelles instead. A beautiful set of small islands out in the middle of nowhere off of east Africa. We spent a month on the tiny island of Praslin and loved every minute of it. Groceries were expensive and the variety was less than desirable, but the rest of the experience was very positive. The islanders speak French/Creole mix, and the shy people are friendly and religious. If you are looking for a place to kick back and relax with the warmest turquoise waters in the world, visit Seychelles now.
Instead of Spain go to Portugal. I hesitated about adding Portugal to this list because Portugal does have a thriving tourism industry. But we met very few Americans while we were there. Perhaps more Americans go to Spain because Spanish is a language more Americans can handle. But during our time in Portugal we had very little difficulty with the Portuguese language. We loved Portugal so much we would consider living there. The food is incredible, the cities are beautiful and the beaches are fantastic. It’s a remarkable place with such a variety of geography. Historically Portugal was once a powerful country of explorers and merchants, colonizers and tyrants but today, this quiet and beautiful country is laid back and relaxed and fun. Visit Portugal.
What is next for us?
We are now into a full-fledged planning phase of our next chapter of the Grand Adventure. We will spend May-September in the USA then depart again. Without really trying, we have noticed
a trend in the countries we are planning to visit next, a trend towards less touristy. A trend towards staying longer in one place. A trend towards trying to make less of an impact and remove ourselves from the fray.
I think this is what we always intended to happen on this journey, but it just took us a while to get there. But when we look back on our favorite places we have been so far, it’s always the places with the road less traveled. It’s always the places with few western tourists. It’s always the places the cruise ships don’t go. The authentic and relatively untouched destinations.
It’s been about seven years since I read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters and it remains one of my all time favorite books. So when I saw he had a new book, I snatched it up not even knowing what it was about. Here is my Book Review The Cold Millions by Jess Walters.
In the Cold Millions, Walters takes us to his own hometown of Spokane, here in the State of Washington where I live. But he takes us back to the early twentieth century, a time where Spokane was a hard-scrabble industrial town. It’s a changing time in America, a time where the rich are trying to keep their power over the poor as workers rights and women’s rights are coming to the forefront.
Walters creates a magical collection of characters, including brothers Rye and Gig who are caught up in the unionization turmoil and the police brutality and corruption that accompanies it, as they try to make a better life for themselves. The story includes real life characters, like feminist activist Elizabeth Gurley-Flynn who is placed in this fictional story that also includes some true life historical events.
If you liked This Tender Land or Peace Like a River you will like The Cold Millions. I enjoyed this book very much, especially learning some history about this era in Spokane that I was not familiar with, but more than anything enjoying Walters writing and character development.
*****Five Stars for The Cold Millions by Jess Walters
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